IGP gives assurance on press freedom after probe of Al Jazeera reporters

Inspector-General of Police Abdul Hamid Bador says the AGC had found that the documentary was against certain laws in the country under the Sedition Act and the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998.

KUALA LUMPUR: Inspector-General of Police Abdul Hamid Bador has guaranteed continued press freedom in the country following the questioning of Al-Jazeera reporters involved in a controversial documentary alleging discrimination against undocumented migrants during the movement control order (MCO).

“First and foremost, let me share the situation in the country. Here, reporters are free to report on anything but there are certain laws.”

He said the laws were there to protect racial and religious harmony in the country.

“Police support media freedom that is responsible.”

He said the documentary had incited anger among the public.

The Attorney-General Chambers had found that the documentary had elements that went against certain laws in the country under the Sedition Act and the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998, he added.

“That’s why they had ordered an investigation.”

Hamid added that the six reporters were called in today as witnesses.

“That’s how we treat all called to Bukit Aman. They come and answer a few questions. We then complete the investigation paper (IP) and later send it to the Attorney-General’s Chambers.”

The Al Jazeera documentary on Friday alleged Malaysia had discriminated against illegal immigrants when it took steps to curb the spread of Covid-19.

It also featured a Bangladeshi migrant, Md Rayhan Kabir, a migrant who is now wanted by the Immigration Department to assist in investigations under the Immigration Act.

On Tuesday, pictures of Rayhan were published on several news websites, alongside the details of his Bangladeshi passport which were released to the media by the Immigration Department.

Hamid also guaranteed the safety of the Bangladeshi man sought for suspected immigration offences.

He said it would be best if he came forward on his own, adding that there were laws that will protect him.

“If what he said was true, then he should not fear anything,” he said.

Hamid added he was shocked when he heard about his allegations that undocumented migrants were treated like “animals”.

Hamid added that he took special care to ensure police officers under him respected the rights of undocumented migrants during any enforcement activities.

He added that he had personally ensured good treatment of migrants admitted to the Covid-19 Low-Risk Patient Quarantine and Treatment Centre at the Malaysia Agro Exposition Park Serdang (MAEPS).

On the six reporters being called for questioning today, he said if they had received death threats they can lodge a police report. “We will investigate them fairly,” he assured.

On whether or not they can leave the country, he said he needed to check with the AGC first.

He added there were no reasons for them to do so. “If they are fair in their reporting, then there should be no fear,” he said.

“Even if the AGC decides to prosecute, we will still give them access to lawyers,” he said.

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